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Published: July 27th 2015
Waiting for the ferry
This is Nathan's grumpy face, while waiting for a ferry from Folegandros.
From Folegandros, our next three destinations were determined in part by the ferry timetables. We wanted to get to Patmos (recommended by my friend from work, Persefoni) and knew that there would be no direct connection, but it turned out that we had to make two stops to get there. This gave us the chance to have two nights in each of Mykonos and Syros.
Things were going well, with ferry travel. Nathan was sleeping on the 3 hour fast ferry to Mykonos. We had some time to read a book or write in our diaries and we got off the ferry feeling fresh. We saw no touts with accommodation that we wanted so headed for the tourist office just off the pier. They hooked us up with an apartment at Ornos beach, which is a family oriented beach about 2 km from the main town. Soon after, we were picked up and that is when Leanne said, “Do you have the pram Jon?” Oops! It was on its way to Piraeus and appeared to be gone forever.
We had good memories of Mykonos from ten years ago, when we stayed up later than we do now as we
In Delos people had statues of themselves carved to put on their doorstep instead of street numbers. But people often moved on relatively quickly so houses had a permanent statue without head and new arrivals only had to pay for a new head to be carved.
weren’t travelling with a four year old. How things have changed. Mykonos is very expensive compared to our other destinations in Greece and they have rules like “no pool use before 11 o’clock” which doesn’t suit Nathan and those young folks seem to have no respect either! Also, the wisdom I have gained in attaining my advanced age of 40 has illuminated the danger of riding a quadbike down the main road on just two side wheels and other such activities. As well as that our body clocks didn't seem to sync with most of the other travelers on Mykonos. That meant we had unrestricted access to the beach in the early part of the day. Just a few other young families joined us before the café owners could be bothered to charge you for using their sunbeds and umbrellas. I had a couple of good swims at Ornos Beach and Leanne went for a run but found the hills tough going. The mornings were also the time of day when the wind was at its least. Fortunately our beach was on the south of the island and did not feel the full force of what is known as the
Ornos Beach, Mykonos.
Meltemi. I really noticed the wind when I went to the nearby island of Delos for a day to see an ancient civilisation that was an important religious and trading centre B.C. Incidentally, this is the first place in which you could exchange currencies.
The apartments themselves were not very good, but the people who ran them, cousins named Mina and Mina (easy to remember) were very helpful and rang the ferry company to arrange the retrieval of our stroller. We didn’t intend to use one until Nathan had his leg injury in England, when I hastily bought a cheap one in Grantham. It has been so useful since we got it, because he can be pushed much easier than carried and will sometimes sleep in it. We were very glad to get it back. Thanks Mina #1.
On our last day in Mykonos Nathan and I were having a swim in the pool and I was tasked with the awkward but not entirely unpleasant challenge of retrieving his bouncy ball from beneath the sun beds that 3 topless girls were absorbing their vitamin D. He was definitely aiming elsewhere, I am sure, but the ball seemed to
Ornos Beach - Mykonos
Ornos beach, Mykonos, in the morning - deserted until the revelers get over their hangovers!!
have a magnetic attraction to this one area. Anyway, I was being a wonderful father and a gentleman and the young ladies always obliged with a smile!
Next stop Syros. This is the capital of the Cyclades islands and the main town of Ermoupolis is very different from everything else we have seen so far. To Leanne and I, the buildings seem Portuguese, Spanish or Italian in appearance. Of note were the Town Hall, St. Nicholas’ Church and Apollon Theatre (a replica of La Scala in Milan). It was nice to wander around these streets for a few hours and take in this provincial capital before we went back to our side of the island at a beach town called Galissas. This was a great little township and we had an awesome place to stay with a big pool. Lucky, because the wind made the beach unpleasant in the afternoon. The Meltemi had been building in strength over the last few days. Nathan had a ball swimming with his floaties and made friends with some teenage boys from Ireland, who liked talking to him as he floated and they stood. He referred to them as "those kids with nails
Cannons at the front of the town hall, Syros.
on their teeth"! It took us a while to work out what he was referring to.... it was their braces 😊 At night he met some English kids his age and after eating at the same restaurant we went with that family to a jumping castle that was set up in a deserted beer garden which met everyone’s needs perfectly.
The ferry to Patmos was a slow one, stopping at a few other ports on the way. But as we neared our destination, we took a walk around the top deck and found that the wind had eased. This side of the Aegean was reputed to be calmer. We had been blown from island to island and were glad to settle in for a while. We got off at the port town of Skala and caught a bus to Grikos, which turned out to be a pleasant little beach town that has heaps of apartments (designed for self catering), 5 tavernas but no shop to buy provisions. HA! So next morning we bought breakfast then caught the bus back to Skala to do some shopping. Our apartment was large with no frills. Just what we needed and nothing more.
Syros _ Apollon Theatre
Inside the Apollon theatre, Syros. On the ferry we met a composer, who came to rehearse with a choir that performed one of his pieces in this theatre. Whilst we visited, we saw opera rehearsal.
Whilst on Patmos we visited the Monastery at the top of the hill, which looks like a fort and has stood there in honour of St. John for almost 1000 years. It was in a cave on this Island that St. John lived so that God could tell him the story of the apocalypse and he dictated the book of revelations. Sounds like plagiarism to me. How many copies of the bible have been sold? That could be a hefty law suit in heaven!
Other days in Patmos were spent swimming in Grikos bay, which is very well sheltered and has waves as big as you will find in a bath tub; sunning ourselves on the beach, which would not rate highly by Australian standards, but Nathan enjoyed the placid waters and we were happy to put a towel down and watch; playing cricket in the driveway of our hotel, and probably waking other guests up because we rose a little earlier than they did; and making friends with the local cats (who Leanne & Nathan named - Mr Moustache was Nathan's favourite), and feeding our favourite ones some left overs or dried cat food that we have
Expensive houses and hotels in Ermoupolis, Syros, looking over the Aegean. Behind us beautiful people were sunning themselves and swimming in the aqua coloured water.
been carrying with us for weeks now.
On one occasion we did hike 4 km to Psili Ammos beach and Nathan did more than half of the walking too, not too much carrying for Daddy (yay!). This included a decent hill that tired Leanne and I out, so Nathan was proud of his achievement and we were too. Again the beach was not wonderful by our standards, but it was regarded as the best on the island for its sand as apposed to pebbles. It was extremely windy and when we saw the 5.00 PM boat about to depart we though about taking it back, but the price put us off so we hiked over the 'mountain' (as Nathan called it) again then caught a cab the rest of the way.
And that was Patmos! We then caught a ferry to Samos and stayed in the resort town of Pythagorio. It is named after the island's most famous son, the one who was fascinated with right angled triangles. A nirvana for Maths teachers you might think; and you'd be right. There are two more of them at our small hotel and one Physics student. Samos is set up
Dinner time at one of five tavernas, Grikos, Patmos.
for package tourism, with an airport one km from our hotel. We joined in with the others and spent a lot of time lazing beside an in the pool. Nathan is now swimming without floaties. We have eaten very well in Pythagorio and sampled some of the best food and wine during our visit to Greece. I actually saw a Samos Grand Cru in a shop window, and the 4 Euro per half litre stuff in restaurants is quite drinkable too. Some of our favourite meals have been stifado, which is a slow cooked beef in tomato ad onions; lamb kleftiko, usually comes in a foil wrap containing sliced lamb, feta, potatoes, eggplant and other veggies; and a feta appetiser that comes wrapped in filo pastry then cooked in an oven and drizzled with honey. There is more to Greek food than gyros and souvlaki, but that is good too.
One day we hired a car to drive around the island, which is one of the bigger Greek islands. Unfortunately the windy roads made Nathan car sick, but we stopped just in time when he told us he needed to. No mess or smell in the car! We saw
Dusk at Grikos, Patmos.
some of the beaches, but again they don't compare to what we are used to and we just drove past. We walked beside a river and then waded through it to try and get to a swimming hole at the bottom of a waterfall. However, our plan was thwarted by some high rocks that you needed to climb over using a rope and there was no way we could get a four year old over that obstacle. Even so the river walk was worth the effort, and after we had to turn back, we climbed a seriously steep staircase to see an impressive view, but not of the falls themselves. Then we drove back into the hills and risked some more car sickness on the narrow roads with hairpin bends a plenty to see a small hillside village called Kastanea that was quaint and quiet as it was in the heat of the day when locals take a break and go home before coming out again in the evening and staying up quite late as a rule. Just a small gathering of elderly men were sitting in small groups in the main square of town chatting under some large trees
View from the Mosatery, Hora down to Skala, Patmos. Skala is on a thin isthmus.
and paying no attention to us interlopers. From here we headed to the main town of Samos, Vathi, for dinner at a restaurant that had been recommended by a Greek couple we met on the ferry to Samos. Sadly that didn't live up to expectations and we came home early to get Nathan to bed on time for once.
Tonight is our last night on the islands and we are having a BBQ beside the pool with other guests. It promises to be a meat extravaganza. Tomorrow we fly to Athens to see some of mainland Greece. Make sure you read the sign in the last photo of this blog!
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